Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Should You Leave Your Graduate Job?

Tara Sallis

So you’ve been in your current job a while now, and you might be starting to get itchy feet. It can be very difficult to know though: should you leave your graduate job and, if so, when’s a good time to hand your notice in?

These days, it is common for people, especially early in their careers to switch around jobs and companies, but having the time and opportunity to grow with one company is very important too. In this post, we’ll go through some pointers to help you think about whether or not you should leave your graduate job.

Many people build successful careers without moving at all

It is common these days to switch jobs more regularly, but it is very important to remember that you can build a very successful career whilst staying put. Establishing yourself in one firm and working your way up and changing jobs very few times within your career is an option that many people still take with their working life.

Do not feel forced to chop and change just because that is what your colleagues or friends are doing. Always think about whether or not the move is right for you and what your personal career goals are. If there is not the scope for you to achieve what you want in your current company and things aren’t going to change, then of course a job move may be a wise choice. But, do not rule out the option of simply sticking with your current job.

Moving for salary increases

Lots of people move jobs for a salary increase or a promotion. However, if this is your motivation you may be able to avoid a move altogether by talking to your employer. If you feel you are underpaid, or you want to move up the career ladder, being upfront with your manager means they may be able to resolve it for you. They will probably want to keep you, especially if you are a recent graduate and they have invested time into you. Or they may be able to let you know when promotion opportunities will open up or when they would be planning to increase your salary in the future.

Moving for salary can seem worth it in the short term, but remember, when you are established in a company opportunities like pay rises and promotions are more likely to come your way because people know who you are. Think about the long term, as well as just what you want right at this moment.

Should you give it more time?

Generally, three years is a good minimum amount of time to spend in a first job. If you are leaving quickly, think about how this might look to future employers. If you quit your graduate scheme or leave your job within six months this could be seen as a red flag on your CV as it could bring up some questions about your reliability and how committed you are. If you’re leaving a job early, make sure your reasons are made clear in your CV and cover letter.

Also, transitioning into the working world can be tricky at first, but once you are used to your new role you will likely settle in! If you are on a less interesting project, or you are having a very demanding month with your workload, keep in mind that things might get better if you stick with it and ride it out.

Finally, you should think about what you have achieved in your job. If you have worked at your company for a number of years, you have some solid achievements and maybe even a promotion under your belt, and you have completed any training programs or learning opportunities the company offers, then your first job will be a real asset when you are looking for your second one. However, if you leave too quickly then you will have less to say about the role you have left and may even find it a hinderance when you start your next job search. It may be worth staying in your job if you do not yet think you have achieved your potential there.

What will moving actually be like?

Remember, moving jobs is not just changing what you do day-to-day. You will lose the networks and trust that you established with your colleagues and, for example, you may not be given as much responsibility by your new manager who doesn’t know you. Also, if you are considering moving for a salary increase, or increase in responsibilities – you should bear in mind that you’re more likely to be promoted at a company that you have been in for a longer time than somewhere where you have just started.This may be exactly what you are looking for, if you feel you would be better suited to a different working environment. But it is worth considering that you have a reputation at your current company that can be very valuable in itself.

What more can your employer offer?

As is mentioned above, speaking to your employer about what you think you are lacking in your current role can be a great way to establish whether or not you should leave. If your employer cannot cater for your ambitions, then it may be time to move on, but they may also offer you changes that improve your career. For example, tell them if you feel you are not learning anything and that is important to you, if you would rather be working in a different department, or if you want to be given more responsibility. If they cannot resolve your concerns, then perhaps start to think about moving, but they may well be willing to tailor the job to you if you are a valuable employee!